North Korea claps back at Mike Pence's 'ignorant and stupid remarks,' leaving summit with the US hanging by a thread

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at a news conference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017, in New York City.
  • A senior North Korean official forcefully condemned comments that US Vice President Mike Pence made during a recent interview with Fox News.
  • Pence suggested that North Korea could end up the way Libya did in 2011 if it didn’t agree to fully cooperate with the US.
  • The North Korean official threatened to recommend pulling out of the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea fired some highly charged statements toward US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, all but torching what had been an otherwise conciliatory mood that the White House hoped to carry into a historic planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, called out Pence in a scathing statement and threatened to scuttle the Trump-Kim meeting set to take place in Singapore on June 12.

“Vice President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the US needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on,” Choe said in a statement, according to North Korea’s leading propaganda outlet.

“As a person involved in the US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice president,” Choe said.

The vice minister referred to recent comments Pence made in interviews. Pence served up a veiled threat that North Korea could end up like Libya did in 2011 if it didn’t agree to fully cooperate with the US.

The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi voluntarily gave up his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003. Eight years later, rebel forces killed him during uprisings supported by the US, and his demise was on full display for the world to see.

“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week,” Pence said in an interview on Fox News. “As the president made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”

Choe went on to suggest that the coming summit – which would be the first time a sitting US president would meet a North Korean leader – might be a pipe dream.

“In case the US offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-US summit,” Choe said, using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behaviour of the United States.”

North Korea typically conveys its most heated rhetoric through state-run media outlets. The loquacious and colourful messages are often directed at US and South Korean officials.

Trump, who met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in this week to discuss the coming summit with Kim, also appeared noncommittal about what’s next.

“It could very well happen,” Trump said to reporters on Wednesday. “Whatever it is, we’ll know next week about Singapore. And if we go, I think it will be a great thing for North Korea.”

A White House negotiating team and North Korean officials are reportedly scheduled to meet in Singapore this weekend to discuss the summit’s agenda and logistics.

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